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A study of a university-led entrepreneurship education programme for small business owner/managers

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date12/2012
JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
Journal number9-10
Volume24
Number of pages38
Pages767-805
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector is crucial to regional and national economies [Thorpe, R., J. Cope, M. Ram, and M. Pedler. 2009. Leadership development in small-and medium-sized enterprises: The case for action learning. Action Learning: Research and Practice 6, no. 3: 201–8; Jones, O., A. Macpherson, and R. Thorpe. 2010. Learning in owner-managed small firms: Mediating artefacts and strategic space. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 22, no. 7/8: 649–73]. In recognition of this, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have been supported through government policy to provide training programmes for SMEs aimed at developing a higher level of skills that will support growth [Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration. 2003. Final Report, KM Treasury, London. http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk; HM Treasury. 2006. The Leitch Review of Skills: Prosperity for all in the global economy – World class skills. London: HM Treasury; DIUS (Department for Business Innovation Universities and Skills). 2007. Implementing ‘The race to the top’: Lord Sainsbury's review of government's science and innovation policies. TSO; DIUS (Department for Business Innovation Universities and Skills). 2008. Higher education at work: High skills, high value. http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/corporate/migratedD/ec_group/HLSS4_08 (accessed February 7, 2011); Zhang, J., and E. Hamilton. 2010. Entrepreneurship education for owner-managers: The process of trust building for an effective learning community. Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship 23, no. 3: 249–70]. This study considers the relationship between entrepreneurship education and SME owner/managers by examining a programme delivered by a HEI for growth-oriented small business owner/managers. It addresses the questions: What factors do participants believe enhance the effectiveness of HEI and SME engagement? And what impact, if any, do participants perceive such engagement has upon them as an individual operating within an SME and their business operations? Qualitative techniques are used to explore the situations of five SME owner/managers at three points during a 5-year period. Findings show that entrepreneurship education delivered a range of benefits to SMEs and the region. Through engaging, owner/managers interacted with others. This extension of their network supported business growth and development. This study demonstrates that enterprise education can deliver positive benefits to SME owner/managers and the wider region in which they are located.